Courting PPC Clients

This week Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro) came up with yet another great question set titled “.” The following is the transcribed Streamcap from the live chat:

Q1: What would you say you or your company’s main source of potential PPC clients is? Why?

  • Referrals baby. If you do great work, people share your success with friends and colleagues. – Andy Groller (@AndyGroller)
  • Leads from people reading blog posts. We’ve established ourselves as thought-leaders. – Michael Fleming (@SEMFlem)
  • Referrals. The work speaks for itself. – James Svoboda (@Realiticy)
  • Referrals and returning customers. – Steve Gibson (@stevegibsonppc)
  • Brand awareness – it’s not just a secondary goal for PPC campaigns! – Matt Umbro
  • Referrals. Happy clients sell for you! – Jonathan Ng (@ThankYouJon)
  • Primarily referrals. I invest time into relationships local & online to encourage this. – Kirk Williams (@PPCKirk)
  • Seminars that we host. Get’s the conversations moving along quicker. – Joe Martinez (@MilwaukeePPC)
  • As consultant, one woman shop, it’s been 100% referral for me. – Leslie Drechsler (@ppcbuyers)
  • Referrals are #1. We look for clients who want us to be their partners, an integrated part of their marketing team & strategy. – Maddie Cary (@MaddieMarketer)
  • We started out with SEO. People are inclined to think if someone can do SEO well, they can do likewise with PPC. – Rohan Ayyar (@searchrook)
  • Brand exposure due to awards and rankings etc, inbounds from SEO and PPC. – Lawrence Jones (@HomeofJones)
  • Referrals and industry specific conferences, some from webinars too. – Farzin Espahani (@FarzinOja)
  • Referrals & content followers. Clients who already like your work are also the best to work with. – Mark Irvine (@MarkIrvine89)
  • Referrals don’t require additional efforts. You just do your job really well & occasionally ask for them. – Robert Brady (@robert_brady)
  • Definitely referrals. It depends on agency culture, too. How sales/account people are, how much of a priority the brand is etc. – Nate Knox (@nateknox)
  • I would say existing clients of our other services, referrals or PPC itself. – Jason James (@Jason_A_James)
  • Also, my monthly newsletter tends to bring in a new customer or two each month (though, usually, smaller clients). – Steve Gibson
  • Referrals are great because if you have great customers, you will continue to trend that way with referrals! – Abe Uchitelle (@AbeUchitelle)
  • I’d also be interested to hear how people got their first 5 clients. Need someone to refer you. – Jason Stinnett (@JasonStinnett)

Q2: What role (if any) do case studies play in your sales funnel? Why?

  • Case studies mean NOTHING to me. Anyone can cherry pick/inflate some numbers. – Andrew Bethel (@AndrewPPC)
  • It depends. Some prospects want to see them, others could care less. At the end of the day we use them when/where appropriate. – Andy Groller
  • A lot! They go in every proposal. Results is always the million dollar question. Even if they can be fudged, they like them. – Michael Fleming
  • I dislike Case Studies because they can be too easily falsified, BUT I begrudgingly respect their place in the sales funnel. – Kirk Williams
    • Case studies are the product display of PPC. It gives the perspective client something more tangible. – James Svoboda
  • I’d argue to have to them readily available for as many subjects/angles as possible, but they can be overkill and outdated. – Nate Knox
  • Case studies are like checking references on a resume you want content to make prospects feel good with a decision theyre making. – Mark Irvine
  • Case studies are REALLY great when Google releases a new feature and your data is based on the beta – be ahead of the curve! – Matt Umbro
    • If you have that acess to beta features then that sounds like a MONSTER deal closer! – Lawrence Jones
  • It’s probably better to give references they can call than case studies, but we still use them. – Michael Fleming
  • To me, nothing kills reputation/credibility faster than an old, irrelevant case study. Keep things updated! – Nate Knox
    • Agreed – make sure data in the case study takes into account current practices and industry trends. – Matt Umbro
  • Only use them if they can be related to similar situation the potential client is in. Seems to have a bigger impact. – Joe Martinez
  • Right after dynamic remarketing went live to everyone, we had a case study ready to go about our results. – Matt Umbro
  • Very little so far, at least formal, documented case studies. Not many clients have been interested in these so far. – Jason James
  • Case studies show what you can deliver, but agree can be “fluffed up”. Trick is how you make the content digestible & relatable. – Maddie Cary
  • We summarize cases with similar problems/goals in proposals to co.s in industries we haven’t worked in. – Rohan Ayyar
  • Always since our prospects, mainly, are not SEM savvy. With case studies we give them real life examples. – Farzin Espahani
  • In-house here. I always ask for DETAILED case studies, so if you want my business, you better have them. – Coy Robison (@IamCoy)
  • None. As most potential clients are referrals, the referee has already sold them them on my abilities. – Leslie Drechsler
  • Useful for sales, but they all say the same thing anyway. I’ve yet to see a case study that said “Yep, it didn’t work!” – Leo Sussan (@lsussan)
    • Which is totally OK – it’s like CRO, I would rather know that a test failed than not to have run it at all. – Matt Umbro
  • Another issue I run into with smaller base is privacy & clients not wanting to be used in a case study. – Kirk Williams
  • They can be very useful – alongside other proof elements. – Steve Gibson
  • What would everyone say is their % of anonymous to client-specific case studies? Do you favor client named studies or anonymous? – Andy Groller
    • Gut feel: I think named is better. Specifics help engender trust and authority. – Kirk Williams
    • If you can use their name, it’ll almost always help. Problem is reluctance due to client not wanting secrets revealed. – Steve Gibson.
      • On other hand, unless your pitching their competitors why does it really matter? – Andy Groller
  • Looking back I wish that I would have written pieces of a Case Study as I worked on an account, would have been much easier. – Jill DuPre (@JillTruJillo)
  • As an aside, I like doing case studies because they force me to really dissect and analyze my data. And by showing my data I don’t expect the results to be the same for you, but positive or negative results, it backs up my process. – Matt Umbro
  • With case studies, surely the key metric is ROI. And to show incr ROI, do you need to show value of customer – v private! – Steve Gibson
  • Im not a big fan of case studies. Case studies focus on what youre already doing right. I’d rather focus on what I need to improve. – Mark Irvine
  • Depends if the meeting is face to face or online. Online the case study helps more – F2F it gets in the way. – Steve Cameron (@adventcom)

Q3: When do you find that potential clients are most responsive to your sales efforts? Why?

  • When you pique their interest, whether that be through something you are doing or another agency isn’t. – Matt Umbro
  • When they’re probably at wits end and looking for a fix. Of course there’s other times that are vice versa. – Andy Groller
  • PPC can be back of mind for many. Talk to them when you know they’re already engaged, like immediately after a webinar. – Mark Irvine
  • Industry benchmarks are always a motivator, if a little cruel. – Leo Sussan
  • When they’ve been referred. As a rule of thumb, in any market, referrals will convert better than non-referrals. – Steve Gibson
  • Almost always after they’ve read articles by us online…and after they get the gift basket. – Michael Fleming
  • Right before they get a proposal and their dreams of $300 / month PPC campaigns bust. – James Svoboda
  • Depends on vertical. Hit their seasonal lulls/spikes, tailor your message to show you understand their world. – Abe Uchitelle
  • Or when they’ve been BS’d by another company and my specifics make them realise that I’m different. – Steve Gibson
  • Better response when we visit their location instead of them coming to us or via phone calls. Personal is better. – Joe Martinez
  • After we’ve audited their account. – Michael Fleming
  • When a) you both are on the same page b) they’re hopeful or assured of achieving their goals by working with you. – Rohan Ayyar
  • When (1) it’s a referral, so some trust already, (2) I can show in account areas of change needed (3) I tone down sales pitch. – Kirk Williams
  • If you’re returning a call/form sub, consider the time of day they tried to contact you.Theyre typically free the same time. – Mark Irvine
  • When someone new has just joined the team (or someone just left). – Robert Brady
  • I’m not in sales, so by the time I talk to them, (I hope) I have some access to audit. I can be real, casual, honest & specific. – Nate Knox
  • Basic sales, but the less desperate you appear, the more you seem to have your act together which engenders trust/curiosity. – Kirk Williams
  • When they’re using another agency that is failing to be responsive enough when dealing with a high budget. – Jason James
  • In-house but I’m most engaged when you show me new thinking. I get bombarded with emails, all with the same pitches. – Coy Robison
  • Achievable CPAs – They may not know much about PPC but they know their business. They know when you are right on it. – Farzin Espahani
  • When you point out something they knew was wrong but couldn’t put their finger on it. – Steve Cameron
  • Prospects are receptive when ppc is actually a good fit for their industry. PPC is not fit for everyone. – James Kravic (@JKravic)
  • If your A3 is “when their account/agency sucks” – how can you tell? Spies? Gnomes? – Mark Irvine
    • When they give access to their account for a quote/initial pre-audit. – Kirk Williams
    • Account audits via read-only are a must. That way you know what you’re getting into too. – Andy Groller
    • Doing a few searches to find their ads is usually all it takes. – Michael Fleming
    • People are open about it for the most part. They wouldn’t be talking to you if something weren’t off. – Nate Knox

Q4: The sales cycle is generally when potential clients are most excited to switch vendors because they think the grass is greener on the other side. How do you set proper expectations with clients before they sign on?

  • Have to get access to the numbers. – Steve Cameron
  • Account audits & discussing their goals and understanding their historical performance. Communication is key. – Andy Groller
  • Gotta see the account to see where they’re at and where you can get them. THEN set expectations. – Robert Brady
  • Account Audits and plan moving forward… both for account and website/landing pages. – James Svoboda
  • Find out the number one goal – your audit may show wasted spend, but that “wasted spend” may be contributing to more revenue. – Matt Umbro
  • Also get access to Google Analytics or Webmaster Tools. If they have other issues like a penalty it could impact PPC. – Andy Groller
  • Do the legwork to determine whether you can improve their account. If you can’t. tell them to stick with current people. – Steve Gibson
  • Case studies on similar accounts in similar environments. Reasonable CPAs and defining the KPIs. – Farzin Espahani
  • It’s always important to manage client expectations and the turnaround time of an account. We explain it takes time to improve. – Jason James
  • This is the hardest part of what we do. We will say “we typically see ROI of 3 to 8x depending on competition, industry, etc.” – Michael Fleming
  • I sell clients on the process rather than results, per se. Hate to see clients hit goals &churn keep them coming back for more. – Mark Irvine
  • Everyone is answering Q4 as if the client already has an AdWords account. What if they do not? – Paul Kragthorpe (@PaulKragthorpe)
    • Do some competitive research to understand the landscape and also have goal discussions, etc. – Andy Groller
    • Diff expectations if you’re starting acct. from scratch. Often have to educate on what PPC is/does. – Melissa Mackey (@Mel66)
    • Set expectations that PPC is an iterative process. Start with best practices, make adjustments based on market data. – Jason Stinnett
    • Look at conv. rates for other channels. KW research. Related industry exp. Lots of expectation setting here. – Robert Brady
    • New clients have the worst/highest expectations – 5 cent clicks, ROI in the thousands of percent. – Steve Cameron
    • Those new to PPC are better off if had another channel (SEO, Social) that they’ve tracked thru funnel. If not, lots to teach them. – Glenn Schmelzle (@heyglenns)
    • If the PPC agency have enough experience, they know the main KPIs to lower CPA. Communicate those. – Farzin Espahani
  • If ecomm, always ask about seasonality and discuss pros and cons of ROI vs. revenue optimization. – Matt Umbro
  • Have to do it like a contract, using words like “typically, might, etc.” – Michael Fleming
  • Detailed account audit & suggested initial opt. set expectations, and making sure they understand change don’t happen overnight! – Leslie Drechsler
  • Listen to your clients CPL or ROAS goal first, then let them know what you think is reasonable. – James Kravic
  • Send out a questionnaire, take a look at their current account(if applicable), make sure we really understand each other. – Sanja Jovanovic (@presSanja)
  • Account access helps us set expectations performance-wise. From there, our audits show how much more we deliver service-wise. – Maddie Cary

Q5: Do you run PPC campaigns to garner new leads? Do they work? Why or why not?

  • Yes, locally, such small volume here. – Kirk Williams
  • Yes and yes. Why sell it if you don’t believe in it yourself? – Nate Knox
    • It’s not about not believing in it, just whether it makes sense to your business model. For example, your best leads may be referrals and PPC doesn’t bring in solid leads, no matter what the targeting. – Matt Umbro
      • Then it boils down to general CRO, funnel strategy & working on that. Providing instant value, etc. – Nate Knox
        • Exactly. Lots of “what can you do for $200/mo?” – Michael Fleming
        • Agreed – I think every agency should be doing some sort of PPC, it’s just not a one size solution. – Matt Umbro
    • Small businesses don’t search for “PPC comnpany” or “Paid Search company” so doing PPC to generate PPC leads doesn’t work. – Farzin Espahani
  • Yes, and because you are all competitors, No they don’t work. – James Svoboda
  • We got a TON of crappy leads when we did it. – Michael Fleming
  • Yes – we’re pitching lead gen PPC so we better be DOING lead gen PPC. Yes it works. – Melissa Mackey
  • Although ROI was usually there, leads typically small in size so not the best ROI. There’s better sources of leads. – Andy Groller
  • We do – they work so well, people bid on our brand name. That’s an achievement, right? – Mark Irvine
  • I also include pricing in ads, try to weed out the smaller guys. – Matt Umbro
  • Side question: anyone get decent leads from Google Partners? All we’ve gotten is junk. – Melissa Mackey
    • For the most part junk. There’s been a few decent ones but mainly nothing of substance. – Andy Groller
    • I’ve had 2 leads, both of them solid but neither worked out. – Kirk Williams
    • So far 100% junk. – Neil Sorenson
  • Who would trust an agency that does PPC and doesn’t do any PPC ads? – Sanja Jovanovic
    • Because PPC ads are expensive, and some of us are too busy from referrals alone. – Kirk Williams
    • I would ask the same question for SEO companies that don’t rank well organically for SEO terms. – Matt Umbro
    • Trust the agency that doesn’t throw money away, and wont throw yours away for the sake of it. – Abe Uchitelle
      • Doing PPC for branded campaigns is not as expensive. – Sanja Jovanovic
    • It depends on your industry. If you are selling software and also do PPC yes you have to do PPC for your software. – Farzin Esphani
  • Running PPC for a paid search agency is as cutthroat as it gets. Competing with the PPCChatters who know your stuff is a challenge! – Neil Sorenson (@iNeils)
  • We always tell our clients we don’t rank for SEO because we only have time to get our clients to rank for their keywords. – Michael Fleming
  • Yep! Isn’t it funny tho for so many PPC “evangelists” how much more time we invest in our clients’ PPC efforts vs. our own? – Maddie Cary
  • We do run PPC campaigns to get new leads but it is very localised to keep the average CPC down. We also run remarketing ads. The remarketing ads help us cross-sell PPC to our existing clients and leads for other services. – Jason James
  • A bunch of PPC experts in an adwords auction is like feeding 10 hungry dogs out of 1 bowl. Lots of excitement with little return. – James Kravic

Q6: How does secondary PPC news (such as the mobile SEO update) play into your sales conversations?

  • It doesn’t. Better to talk about news/events in their industry I think. – Richard Fergie
  • Maybe not directly every time, but if you’re not up to date on the industry, why should anyone trust you? – Nate Knox
  • Helps show we’re on top of things and can help beyond PPC. – James Svoboda
  • I send “what’s new in PPC” emails to clients that persuades them to try new campaigns & increase budgets. – Michael Fleming
  • We’ve mentioned the term “Mobilegeddon” a lot recently. – Leo Sussan
  • It can get our foot in the door for other services not being used by our clients, although it shouldn’t be the 1st reason. – Andy Groller
  • Talking to prospects about the latest in PPC (which is forever changing) shows we’re not utilizing yesterday’s strategies. Now do most prospective clients care or understand what that signifies? Probably not. – Neil Sorenson
  • Often in a very useful way. When big changes happen, let former clients know. It’s a way to reconnect. – Steve Gibson
  • The fact that we have to get phone numbers verified in call extensions doesn’t interest clients. Has to be impact news. – Steve Cameron
  • SEO updates turn more people to take to PPC to brave the storm. Sell PPC as the short term solution while they figure out SEO. – Mark Irvine
  • As digital marketers we should having a working knowledge of other areas, but doesn’t have to be extensive. – Matt Umbro
  • We stay ahead of convo by emailing our clients abt events & our take on how they’re impacted. Better than playng catch-up. – Glenn Schmelzle
  • Very important to stay up to date on industry changes to educate potential clients on what’s possible (ex: enhanced campaigns). – Maddie Cary
  • I told one client “Get ready to spend a lot more soon. Either in PPC or a new site… it’s your call, but think ahead on this one” – Nate Knox
  • Staying abreast of industry changes and Google updates both in SEO & PPC is a part of the service we offer. – Jason James
  • I try to do 2 things with news/updates. (1) Have a good convo so I can demonstrate that I’m “with it” but also (2) use that to demonstrate that I will focus on the fundamentals & use news/updates to supplement account basics. – Kirk Williams
  • This is not going to close the deal for my sales team. We don’t want to distract our prospects with too much technical jargon. – Farzin Espahani
  • If a client asks for your POV on something, the worst thing is a blank stare and an “uhhhh… I didn’t see that yet.” – Nate Knox

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More PPCChats

Don’t forget to stay tuned for the next #PPCchat on Tuesday at 12 noon Eastern, 9 am Pacific and 5pm in the UK. Same Chat time, same Chat channel.


Check out the PPCChat Twitter list to see and connect with all current and prior participants.

• Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro)
• James Svoboda (@Realicity)
• Paul Kragthorpe (@PaulKragthorpe)
• Abe Uchitelle (@AbeUchitelle)
• Andrew Bethel (@AndrewPPC)
• Andy Groller (@AndyGroller)
• Coy Robison (@IamCoy)
• Farzin Espahani (@FarzinOja)
• Glenn Schmelzle (@heyglenns)
• James Kravic (@JKravic)
• Jason James (@Jason_A_James)
• Jason Stinnett (@JasonStinnett)
• Jill DuPre (@JillTruJillo)
• Joe Martinez (@MilwaukeePPC)
• Jonathan Ng (@ThankYouJon)
• Kirk Williams (@PPCKirk)
• Lawrence Jones (@HomeofJones)
• Leo Sussan (@lsussan)
• Leslie Drechsler (@ppcbuyers)
• Maddie Cary (@MaddieMarketer)
• Mark Irvine (@MarkIrvine89)
• Melissa Mackey (@Mel66)
• Michael Fleming (@SEMFlem)
• Nate Knox (@nateknox)
• Neil Sorenson (@iNeils)
• Robert Brady (@robert_brady)
• Rohan Ayyar (@searchrook)
• Sanja Jovanovic (@presSanja)
• Steve Cameron (@adventcom)
• Steve Gibson (@stevegibsonppc)

Courting PPCChat Streamcaps…. Sounds Dirty

This is a guest post by Paul Kragthorpe; works at WebRanking in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Connect with Paul @PaulKragthorpe, and Google Plus.

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One Response to Courting PPC Clients

  1. Matt A says:

    I’ve been reading these PPC Chat round ups for a while now and it finally dawned on me what I often see as the contradictions. I think where you work and what your goals are decide your answer on SO many of these questions. Like the ones “absolutely not” vs “omg yes!” Obviously someone passionately believes in both sides but then someone above said they have people bidding on their brand name. That’s obvious a different type of business than a new startup with basically no brand awareness yet. These differences in themselves change so many possible answers.

    I figure the best way around this, for learning purposes, is to find the 2-3 people who are in a situation “like yours” and follow their advice not the people who are in COMPLETELY different but still PPC roles.

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